Recently I had a meeting with a client interested in CRM Project Management in the cloud. Normally this is my favorite kind of meetings. Meet new and excited people already informed of the benefits of cloud (low TCO, no installations, no hardware required, minimal up and running time, etc) and talk about CRM project management. So I thought that would be a very nice, productive and therapeutic session.
Well, it was nice and productive but not so therapeutic, at least for me. We walk over the desired goodies, you know all the basic stuff such as requirements, milestones, burndown charts, agile collaboration, kanban boards, Gantt charts etc. And then it hit me! The client start telling me her “war” stories from past projects that were causing problems not during but after their completion and delivery. Usually, the total absence of problems during project’s execution is a strong indication that:
- There is no problem with the project manager
- There is no problem with the project’s execution per se.
So where was the problem? As it turned out the majority of issues had to do with traceability. Traceability of development costs, mails, invoices, travel expenses, tasks, productivity etc. The company had strict ISO procedures to follow, and the quality department where giving hard time to PMs for keeping project’s related costs and communications in a neat and well organized manner.
So, instead of discussing about various features for an online project management tool, we start arguing how a project manager can be assisted in managing the project’s documentation. To use a project management tool (cloud or not) that is not able to do proper project tracking and log every action that is performed inside the project’s scope (along with the action’s derivatives) is unacceptable. That is if you consider yourself a project manager at least…
Actually that need (to be able to log and document all project activities in an automatic, transparent and traceable manner) is behind the recent trend that most of the online project management tool vendors follow. That is to couple the traditional PM features with strong true enterprise collaboration functionality capable of handling and linking all projects communications, costs, resources spent etc. and powerful Business intelligence tools that can export interesting reports.
Simply put, managers should be able to focus on the managerial aspect and the tool should do the “boring” stuff behind the scenes. This is what make project and quality managers happy.